Laid-off Micron Employees Find Fine Print

Laid-off Micron Employees Find Fine Print
BOISE - "It's in small print at the bottom of the page," said "John," a Micron employee who was laid off first thing Monday morning.

As he looked through the materials Micron gave him to take with him, he noticed that small print. As it turns out, it may have big implications for Micron workers being laid off.

Employees got an entire packet of information to review when they were let go. An employee has shared the packet with CBS 2 Eyewitness News and we had our attorney look at it. She says it's very sophisticated, and the average person may not understand everything they're signing.

"I had to sit and read through the documents really closely," said "John." He says he's been an employee at Micron for several years, and based on a chart, was entitled to several weeks severance pay, but that's when he noticed an asterisk.

"They're telling us that they're giving us a severance package and they really aren't because they're using the WARN time as part of the severance," said "John."

In the fine print, the document says employee severances are subject to reductions by "benefit offsets." That's when the Micron document specifically mentions the WARN Act. the document says severance pay can be reduced, dollar for dollar, by how much they pay out in penalty for violating the act, which is about two months pay.

This means employees are essentially absorbing the company's penalty in their own severances.

Some say Micron's decision to take the penalty instead of just notifying workers and unemployment agencies is a double hit to those laid off. Labor liaison with Idaho Workers Opportunity Network Sam Greer says when the Labor Department doesn't know about the lay-offs, or how bad they'll be, they can't take Rapid Response Teams into employment sites to help with group job transition skills.

"Unfortunately, that means then that all those folks affected are now on their own," said Greer, "They don't have the advantage of the Department of Labor or other community assistance." And Greer says this isn't the first time Micron has pulled the improper stunt.

He says they used the same tactics in 2003, taking a penalty instead of giving the required notice. And local lawmakers still supported the company with tax breaks. Greer says they shouldn't do it again.

"You know there's something about fool me once, now twice; well I don't think they should get a third chance," said Greer.